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Kirtland boasts $4B in area economic impact

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For the Record: This story has been changed to accurately reflect the number of Sandia National Laboratories employees at Kirtland Air Force Base. 

Kirtland Air Force Base claimed nearly $6.7 billion in total economic impact during fiscal year 2016, nearly $1 billion less than in fiscal year 2014.

More than $4 billion of that was in the greater Albuquerque area, according to a report released during Tuesday’s annual meeting of the Kirtland Partnership Committee.

While the local impact was around $300 million more than FY 2014 , the overall impact was down $929 million.

That accounts for around 10 percent of Albuquerque’s gross domestic product, said base commander Col. Richard Gibbs.

“The bottom line is clear: While we will never stop fighting to diversify our economy, we are going to always embrace Kirtland Air Force Base and our other bases and national labs,” said New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. “They’re extremely important to our economy and to the people and to the safety and security of our country.”

Kirtland releases an economic impact report every other year for the previous fiscal year.

The overall decrease was largely due to fewer reported expenditures, which includes contracts, purchases and construction costs, which went from $7.6 billion in FY 2014 to $6.7 billion in FY 2016.

“That’s primarily due to how we’ve been accounting for contracts,” Gibbs said.

When command of the base switched from Air Force Materiel to Air Force Global Strike in 2015, contracts that were retained by Materiel are now being counted by their new respective bases, he said.

“That money is still flowing, it’s just not being credited here,” Gibbs said.

Kirtland spokesman James Fisher said in an email that 2013’s sequestration (congressionally authorized spending cuts) may also have had a part to play in the numbers.

“Some of the impact on payroll and expenditures had to do with long-term impacts of sequestration, and budget restrictions which were still in play for part of FY16,” he said.

Employee numbers and payroll showed an increase.

The base – including military, Sandia National Laboratories and Department of Defense contractors – employs around 22,000 people.

Close to half of those were Sandia employees.

Gibbs said the workforce on base supported 31,500 jobs in the area.

“That means that Kirtland is responsible for more than 53,000 jobs in the area, or about 13 percent of the total jobs,” he said.

Total payroll increased by $250 million to $2.4 billion.

The report was prepared by the 377th Comptroller Squadron Financial Analysis Office.